Syria Daily: A Token Shipment of Aid to Besieged Darayya


PHOTO: Boxes in one of the “half-empty” trucks that delivered aid to Darayya near Damascus on Thursday



Analysis: Why Do Young Syrians Join Extremist Groups?

UPDATE 1545 GMT: President Assad’s senior media advisor, Bouthaina Shaaban, has told an audience in Washington DC that “no one is starving” in Darayya.

Shaaban, who is barred by US sanctions from entering the country, was speaking to an event organized by the “Global Alliance for Terminating ISIS/Al-Qaeda” at the National Press Club.

ORIGINAL ENTRY: Aid has reached besieged Darayya, southwest of Syria’s capital Damascus, for the first time since November 2012 — only to bring more frustration, anger, and even suspicion that the delivery was a token staged by the Assad regime to deflect international pressure.

Wednesday began with an announcement by Assad’s ally Russia that a 48-hour ceasefire had been arranged — only a day after the latest aerial and ground attacks on the town — so the assistance could reach Darayya.

Later in the day, several trucks arrived. That was an advance on the previous attempt to deliver aid on May 12, when the Syrian military had halted a five-truck convoy on the outskirts and pro-Assad forces had then shelled waiting for the assistance, killing a father and son and wounding five other people.

However, when the packages were opened on Thursday, some were empty and the others contained no food except for a small amount of baby formuala. Instead, there were some drugs, medical equipment, and items such as condoms and mosquito nets.

A detailed list of items showed that in addition to the denial of food, there was an absence of vaccines, micronutrients, pre-natal supplements, oral hydration salts, water purification, and hygiene kits.

Residents were filmed declaring, “All the trucks were empty or full of things we don’t need.”

The incident raised suspicions that aid had again been stolen en route to its destination. UN officials, including the head of humanitarian operations Stephen O’Brien, have reported that regime personnel have systematically taken medical equipment and supplies from convoys, and food was missing earlier this year from parcels delivered to besieged areas.

See also Syria Video: “Have Aid Come” — Besieged Darayya in the Eyes of Its Children
Syria Feature: 2 Killed, 5 Wounded as Assad Regime Blocks 1st Aid to Darayya Since 2012

Jakob Kern, the World Food Program director in Syria, said that the regime had not allowed food in the first delivery, but said another convoy with food is planned for Friday.

However, local council member Hussein Ayash noted the continuing attacks on Darayya, “The regime forces violated the Russian truce, firing rockets into the town and shelling farmland to deny more than 8,000 besieged civilians there any access to food.”

Fending Off International Pressure?

Residents and activists noted that the delivery to Darayya came on the day that the International Syria Support Group had pledged to start aid, including by airdrops, if the Assad regime did not ease blockages.

Two weeks ago, the ISSG — 17 nations including the US and Russia, the UN, and the Arab League — called on the UN’s World Food Program to provide assistance by June 1. The declaration came after the Assad regime tightened sieges in April and May, with the UN helping only 5% of hard-to-reach areas.

Last week, UN envoy Staffan de Mistura stepped back from the commitment, saying that airdrops depended on the assent of the Assad regime. The statement brought criticism from several ISSG members, including Britain and the US, and the insistence that the air support must be pursued.

Marjolein Wijninckx, the Syria Programme Manager at the peace organization PAX, said that the Darayya convoy was “a small amount of medical aid just in time for the ISSG deadline.”

“It will only have an impact if the flow of food and aid is unimpeded,” Wijninckx said. “The siege of Darayya is a collective punishment and must be lifted, together with all the sieges in Syria, to ensure lasting peace.”

The Syrian Arab Red Crescent has long faced claims that it is complicit with the Assad regime in the provision — or restriction — of aid. SARC President Abdul Rahman al-Attar is a member of the regime’s elite as one of Syria’s wealthiest businessmen. He heads the Attar Group, with interests in the pharmaceutical, insurance, banking, tourism, and agriculture industries, and he is the Chair of Syria’s International Chamber of Commerce.

The US and Britain both said on Wednesday that airdrops should proceed despite the convoy to Darayya.

US State Department spokesman John Kirby said assistance was “far from sufficient” to provide necessary: “The United States supports the World Food Program moving forward on their planning to carry out air operations to provide additional aid.”

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said the Assad regime had “cynically allowed limited amounts of aid” but failed to deliver widespread access:

While air drops are complex, costly and risky, they are now the last resort to relieve human suffering across many besieged areas. Countries with influence over the Assad regime such as Russia and Iran must now ensure that these air operations can proceed in a safe and secure manner.

Noting that US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday, an unnamed American official told The Washington Post about the lack of progress in political talks and issues such as the sieges:

Are we satisfied? No one is satisfied….

The idea is to continue to push forward….[But] the reality is that Russia and the Assad regime have not fulfilled the commitments they’ve made.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said about the Kerry-Lavrov call, “The situation around Syria and particularly the necessity of resolute joint actions against Jabhat Al-Nusra and other terrorist grouping — something the Russian side has long been calling for — were the focal points of the discussion.”

A Delivery to Besieged Moadamiya

As the suspicions grew over Darayya’s, aid was delivered to nearby Moadamiya on Thursday, after the local council agreed in principle to conditions set by the Assad regime and Syrian military.

The convoy included rice, bulgar wheat, beans, sugar, salt, and oil. Another delivery is reportedly scheduled for Saturday.

On Thursday, Moadamiya’s council reportedly accepted conditions such as the removal of the barricades, trenches, and tunnels; a rejection of any affiliation with rebel factions by those remaining in Moadamiya; an account of all arms; and evacuation of those rejecting the settlement.

After a siege in which more than 100 people died of starvation, the Moadamiya opposition consented to a “truce” in early 2014. Despite the agreement, the Syrian military has maintained the blockade and regularly bombarded Moadamiya, as well as Darayya.

Besieged al-Wa’er in Homs: “We Died, Our Families Died, Even the Grass Died”

Syria Direct posts interviews with some of the estimated 250,000 residents of al-Wa’er in Homs, who are still under siege and bombardment despite a December “truce” agreement:

Regime shelling of al-Wa’er last week killed at least seven people.

One resident says:

This is the most intense encirclement ever imposed on al-Wa’er. There is no medical supplies, no medical supplies, or baby formula. Basic necessities aren’t available.

Videos: Latest Airstrikes in Idlib Province

Men dig out bodies from under rubble after pro-Assad airstrikes on the town of Ariha in Idlib Province:

White Helmets rescuers respond to a strike in Ma’arat al-Nu’man:

Damage to the Grand Mosque in Ma’arat Misrin:

The attacks came just over 48 hours after Russian attacks on Idlib city killed dozens of people near the National Hospital.

See Syria Daily, June 1: Russia Tries to Deny Its Deadly Bombings Near Idlib Hospital

There were also strikes on opposition areas in Aleppo city — men pull out victims from rubble in the Saliheen district:

Opposition-Rebel Bloc Proposes Ramadan Truce

The opposition-rebel High Negotiations Committee has proposed a nationwide truce for the holy month of Ramadan.

The proposal was made in a letter from Riad Hijab, the HNC’s coordinator, to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

“The letter to Ban Ki-moon suggests a truce. We know there should be one, full respect of the truce across the country, nationwide, for the full month of Ramadan,” said HNC member Basma Kodmani.

“Ramadan being next week, that would start creating the right conditions, the right atmosphere, for us to return to [political talks in] Geneva,” she added.

A spokeswoman for UN envoy Staffan de Mistura confirmed that the proposal had been put to the International Syrian Support Group: “Any consideration to de-escalate the fighting on the ground is most welcome, especially during the Holy Month of Ramadan.”

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    The Islamic State Is Targeting the Alawite Heartland and Russia
    The article notes notes why Alawite regions may be especially vulnerable and the likely ripple effect as ISIS takes advantage there. As to Russia:
    ” IS has already shown a pattern of targeting Russian infrastructure, most recently Tiyas airfield between Homs and Palmyra, according to the BBC. IS leaders are well aware that Moscow’s assistance enabled the Syrian army to retake Palmyra and set its sights on Deir al-Zour, so they aim to increase the price of the Russian intervention and force a withdrawal from the Syrian theater, or at least from the eastern fronts.”
    By turning on a hated and genocidal regime with whom it has often colluded and by inflicting suffering on the now hated Alawites, ISIS could also increase its own popularity among Sunnis at the expense of Al Queda-linked JAN.
    Past is not prologue. Trolls for the Genocide Alliance here kid themselves if they are lulled by any initial lull. Now if only President Hillary Clinton simultaneously recognizes the four big potential benefits of an American withdrawal from Afghanistan and Iraq, We reap no benefits by being in either but our presence in both help Putin and Khamenei. The latter even colludes with the Taliban against us. Once we’re gone, the Taliban and other radicals will have good reason to cease all such cooperation.

    DOMESTIC POLITICAL ADVANTAGE: The best way to triumph over Iranian and Russian troublemaking is the one that requires the least money and minimum or no casualties. In contrast to other options, withdrawal from Afghanistan and Iran would be polltical popular at home. pleasing interventionists for the reasons below and pleasing pacifists and isolationists simultaneously. After all, what’s warlike about that? The move would please pacifists as well.
    PASS THE JOB TO THE BAD GUYS: Anyone who can read a map can see why Russia and Iran would have no choice but to take our place, regardless of much higher costs in men and in economic consequences.
    FORCE PUTIN AND ASSAD TO REDUCE TROUBLEMAKING ELSEWHERE. Since extremists in Iraq and Afghanistan pose a much greater threat to Russia and Iraq than places like Iraq, Syria and Yemen, and since they’d be overextended they’d have to curb troublemaking elsewhere.
    4. CREATE POLITICAL TROUBLES QUICKLY FOR PUTIN AND KHAMENEI BACK HOME. The public in both countries will quickly lose support for intervention if it begins to look like a quagmire with no end in cite. Putin and Khamenei had been counting on Obama and Putin-loving Donald Trump to keep bailing them out in Iraq and Afghanistan while giving Russia and Iran a free hand for perceived “easy pickiongs” elsewhere. Watch how quickly panic mounts in the Kremlin and in Tehran as the two dictators ponder th the consequences of American withdrawal in the countries cited.

    • RT…no good news can come from ISIS. They can’t be supported not even as the lesser evil. Its a disease. Period.

    • This was master-strategerist RT’s best recommendation in mid 2014:
      “Clearly the ONLY way to oust Assad now (always the #1 rebel priority) is to mass surrender to ISIS and agree to follow ISIS commands, in return for ISIS going all out against Assad. Jordan, having supported the Obama scheme against the rebels, needs to become a target as well. Obama and America a boomerang in return) is for rebels to mass surrender to ISIS and agree to follow ISIS orders in all things in return When Assad goes down, the Syrian people and all Sunnis must take revenge on those countries whose leaders aided Assad’s crimes: Iran, Iraq, Russia and the USA.”
      Always keep up the amazing work, Frank!

        • Put things in context, Bill. The ideal of relying on an “American nuclear shield” rather than developing your own nukes once might have made sense. Obama’s Great Red Line Backdown, his perpetual attempts to strengthen Iran’s position in the Middle East and his collusion with the Genocide Alliance in carrying out mass murder in Syria would suggest the so-called American nuclear shield is worthless.\

        My proposal that the US withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan and leaving both Russia and Iran to deal with the threat on their doorsteps seems to have scared the daylights out of Barber. That he responds by diversion (attacking the source or ad hominem argument) is all revealing.
        I’ve pointed out four benefits which would surely apply if we did so. If Barber believed it was not so, he should have easily been able to demonstrate why not. The fact that he failed to do so implicitly concedes that all four benefits would apply.
        His hominem attack is itself flawed because it ignores context, logic and point of view. In 2014 after the West’s massive portrayal while rebels were forced to fight six powers at once, the situation looked very bad. From the point of view of rebels and most Syrian Sunnis, the Assad regime is WORSE than Assad. Given the West siding with the latter as well, teaming up with ISIS, who ranks second to Assad as major threat, would have made sense then and punished the West for its pro-Iran, pro-Assad betrayals at the time. All other alternatives WOULD HAVE BEEN WORSE. Given the option of life under the Genocide Regime and life under ISIS, the latter would have made the best choice. Besides, with Assad gone, rebels could have turned on ISIS. It’s the continued presence of the Assad regime that prevents that.
        Of course, things change over time. It turns out that the rebels not only survived but managed to back the regime to cliff’s edge for a third time until an outsider (Russia) strongly intervened once again. The rebels are now fighting not the Syrian Army which no longer exists but foreign colonial invaders. Now rebels have a new option: Fight 50 years if necessary, drain Russia and Iran ceaselessly and draw in all Sunnis from all over the world not just to Syria but to Central Asia, Russia and Iran as well .

        With a new president (Hillary?) we could exercise the option of doing to Assad, Putin and Khamenei what the Chinese and Russia did to us in Vietnam at low cost to themselves. They pulled it out without having to intervene massively unlike what Bush did in Iraq
        We could have enabled the rebels in exactly the same way. Instead, treacherous Obama played a game of keeping them just strong enough to survive but not strong enough to win–thereby prolonging the war and maximizing genocide and sectarianism.

        • Your modest proposal doesn’t scare but rather deeply amuses me, Frank, because, while being a dyed-in-the-wool imperialist, your emotion at the prospect of impending defeat [or at least anything less than an unalloyed triumph for Neoconnerie] in Syria drives you to recklessly slice off a few imperial tentacles before their throttling grip on the victims has produced the required money-shot.
          Now, at risk of betraying the most closely-guarded secrets … capitalism is all about robbing the poor to pay the rich and imperialism, its pinnacle, is about imposing and enforcing that system with even more brutality on other societies abroad. The only thing intolerable to it is ideological and/or military competition for the planet’s resources, so we see the key to a smooth-running Empire is ensuring that vassal countries toe the line politically and perpetually foot the bills of their conquerer, i.e. keep the tribute placidly flowing from all directions into the imperial centre, a perfect example being Japan today still paying $2B/yr for the dubious privilege of Yanki occupation, even 70+ years after its liquidation ‘liberation’ into ‘democracy’.
          For comparison, how long do you imagine the Catholic Church would last if, instead of jangling the tin plate in their face at every ‘service’, it actually handed fistfuls of cash to all the paupers [would] who flock through its doors? I reckon I’m out on a fairly stout limb in claiming considerably less than the 1600 years it already has.
          Similarly, the Yanki Empire cannot afford to go around making gifts of liberty to not cough up to its victims and of opportunities to have their own bills paid for free to its competitors. The very thought is the supreme Commie heresy to the creed and could bankrupt the World Mafia Don’s ‘credibility’ overnight, sending the Yanki dollar into a tailspin, if Wall St. thought their Pentagovernment debt-collectors would no longer break the legs of those who for any reason fail to drop the money in their slot.
          Which is why I say ‘Everyone has a part to play … Rome wasn’t burnt in a day!’ and sincerely wish your strategy every chance for execution.

  2. Update:
    #International: Posters often wonder whether Obama is an incompetent or maliciously passive when it comes to managing the Syrian conflict well according to the following link the US currently doesn’t have a strategy in the middle east beyond improvising (ie making up as he goes along) answers that maybe not be correct.
    Excerpt: “They have tried regime change — bumping off Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi, for example — and “decapitation” such as assassinating Mansour and a host of other militant leaders, including Osama Bin Laden.”

    “They have invaded and occupied countries, even giving military-style nation-building a whirl. They have experimented with counterinsurgency and counterterrorism, peacekeeping and humanitarian intervention, retaliatory strikes and preventive war….Here’s the one thing you need to know about the broader fight — there is no strategy. None. Zilch. We’re on a multi-trillion-dollar bridge to nowhere, with members of the national security establishment more or less content to see where it leads.”
    #National: Iran testing combat drones in Syria.
    Drones are very easy to spoof and hack, people can get instructions from online, afterall Iran got this technology by spoofing/hacking American drones.
    #Aleppo: YPG begin publicly beatings of women wearing veils in Sheikh Maqsoud.
    I ask the question the again why shouldn’t the rebels expel YPG from Sheikh Maqsoud and Afrin province?
    #Qamishli: The Stalinistic narco-guerillas known as the PYD/YPG/PKK have now began a policy of ethnic cleansing apparently.
    #Hassekeh: Daeesh do their withdraw and attack method again “Reports #ISIS has captured the village of Um Thubyan in the Jayer area south east of Shadadi in #Hasaka after heavy clashes with #SDF forces” – Paradoxy13
    #Qalamoun: The FSA in Qalamoun do something what the FSA in Deraa should be doing to both Daeesh and regime “FSA raid #IS-outpost at #Damascus->Baghdad road a dozen IS-members killed & captured” – markito0171
    This is what rebels (ie small units of them launching surprise raids) everywhere should be doing regularly.
    #Observation: 1) Interesting comment on what maybe happening in northern Aleppo “I actually have this suspicion that ISIS have drawn them into a trap to cut them off at the river” – Malcolmite
    Daeesh have a habit (see offensives against FSA) of withdrawing from an area before counter-attacking again at night. If it’s true then SDF/YPG+Token-Arabs are going to be entrapped just like the FSA trapped by Daeesh near Marea if SDF/YPG+Token-Arabs are not careful.
    2) “Unprecedented Faylaq Sham campaign in whole N. #Syria aiming to shell main Regime targets in reaction to airstrikes.” – QalaatAlMudiq
    Unless it’s done at a saturated scale (ie extremely high number every day for 3 weeks continuous) then I suspect it won’t make much of a difference. Furthermore why isn’t Sheikh Maqsoud or Afrin province included?
    3) The need for rebels to create a large centralised counter-espionage unit to weed out regime/Daeesh informants and sleeper cells gets proven again “The culprits behind bombings of mosques & other terrorism in Idlib captured & were a pro Assad cell ” – Malcolmite

    • Maybe the reason the rebels do not march into Sheikh Maqsud and Afrin,is because they are unable to?Maybe if some crack units,say Alqaeda and Jund al Aqsa were redeployed from South Aleppo to the Sheikh Maqsud area,we could see some forward momentum.

  3. Why do I keep going on about the need for rebels to develop an extensive (ie connects from one province to another) tunnel networks well here’s a lesson from history from an army that defeated a super-power that had aerial superiority whilst they did not:
    This tunnels were such a nuisance that the American army was forced in their desperation to use voodoo methods like dowsing to find them.

  4. Update:
    #Aleppo: There’s hope left for the rebels in Mare yet “Unconfirmed reports the Intl coalition air dropped munition and weapons to besieged #FSA fighters in Mare’ north #Aleppo at Turkey’s request” – NorthernStork
    #Homs: Oh dear, Daeesh “took over Jubb al Jarrah town in eastern #Homs from #Assad-forces” – markito0171
    #International: Interesting discussion about how much of a paper tiger the Russian military is.
    Quick gist of that discussion: In terms of quality only 1/3rd of the Russian army is upto NATO standards.

    • Ruskies have a small military in actuality ( shit that works and soldiers who show up sober ) but it is a fierce military not to be trifled with. NATO is a behemoth and bloated like most western institutions. Thats why everything is with special forces nowadays. A ruskie v NATO conflict would be the end of life on this planet for the next 50000 years. Thats why ‘Merika cant really do anything in Syria now, not that there was much interest in doing anything anyways. The entire objective atm has to be to keep tensions as low as possible in any way possible. A lot more concern about getting into a fight with Putoorin than caring about the people of Syria. Yeah, from a morality stand point it sucks, but that is how it is. There just aren’t enough Yanqui imperialists who feel moral enough to give thier life or wealth for anything to do with Syria. There’s an argument to be made that this is what they get for being in bed with Iran, the shit they pull in Lebanon, and for not cooperating enough with the American devils. Again, sucks if you are Syrian, the birth lotto was unkind this go-around.

      • and for the record. I personally feel that a genocide is taking place in Syria. And its Putin, Khomeni, Assad, Hezbollah, and whoever the hell ISIS’s leader is, are the responsible parties and should be held to account.

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